Panthers try to extinguish Flames down south

Playing beyond regulation has been an issue for the leading Panthers this season. Florida hopes to handle high fourth straight loss this evening with just its second home victory over the Flames since 1995.

The Panthers are on their second three-game slide of the season, a span that includes an overtime loss in Buffalo on Dec. 9 and a shootout setback to the Devils on Tuesday. The skid matches a three-game slide from Oct. 31-Nov. 6 that featured three shootout losses in a row.

Overall, Florida is just 1-6 in games that go past regulation this year, including 1-4 in the shootout. The Panthers have scored just once in 14 chances during the tie break.

Florida has only itself to blame for even going beyond 60 minutes versus New Jersey, blowing an early two-goal lead en route to the 3-2 setback. Kris Versteeg scored both goals, one shorthanded, but both he and Tomas Fleischmann were denied in the shootout.

Versteeg leads the Panthers with 15 goals and 33 points, but is 0-for-4 in the shootout this season.

"We've been throwing a bunch of points away lately," said Versteeg, who has three goals and five points over his last four. "We have to be better in a shootout, myself especially because you always want to help your team out."

Jose Theodore made 32 saves in the loss, which came in the opener of a four- game homestand. The Panthers are 4-0-2 in their last six at home and lead the division by five points over Washington.

Defeating the Flames in Sunrise has been an issue for the Panthers. Calgary is 6-1-0 with a pair of ties in its last nine at Florida and has taken four of the past six meetings overall. The Panthers did notch a 3-0 win at Calgary in the lone encounter a season ago.

The Flames were in action last night and dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Lightning, earning a point thanks to third-period goals from Rene Bourque and Olli Jokinen. That came after the Flames allowed three goals and 18 shots in the second period.

"The second period is where we lost control of the game with some turnovers," Flames head coach Brent Sutter said.

Miikka Kiprusoff gave up all five goals on 34 shots, while Matt Stajan netted his first goal of the campaign and Jarome Iginla his team-leading 12th.

Calgary has lost two in a row for the first time this month, but still has a point in eight of its last 10. It is 6-2-2 over that time.